Talking with Thomas Dolby: 2012 Moog Innovation Award Winner

We had the pleasure to sit down with Thomas Dolby last week in England to deliver his custom Minimoog Voyager XL. Dolby talked with us about his experiences with Moog synthesizers, his musical process, and his history with many different musicians.

When were your first experiences with Moogs? When did you first get the opportunity to experiment and play with them?

There tended to be Minimoogs lying around professional studios round-about the end of the 70's - 76-77-ish when I first got into studios. And when the Micromoog came out I picked one up second hand out of the back of Melody Maker. And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only synth I'd owned was a Transcendent 2000.

Ah, that's the DIY one isn't it? 

Yeah. And I didn't have a keyboard for it. So I could sort of generate tones but that was about it. I remember hooking it up to the keyboard from an ARP.

 

That's very old school - in the sense of using it as an oscillator bank.

Yeah. So I was familiar with Minimoog but the Micro was the first one I could afford. And the next one was the Source. And for a while I had a three piece band, and I was basically playing the Micro and the bass player was using the Source.

And so I've used Mini's a lot over the years but never owned one. The first serious recording I did with one was on the Foreigner "4" album. I remember Mutt Lange had left for the night, and left me for the night like a kid locked up in a toy shop. And I had six tracks and had to make an intro for "Waiting for a Girl Like You".

 

And so I made some sort of Eno-esque ambient drones on the front of it. And to my amazement, it stayed! It was quite an odd feeling traveling around in the early eighties and hearing AOR Radio playing this sort of out there…

...Ambient, experimental thing!

Yeah, it felt quite subversive at that point.

That was at Electric Lady in New York, and actually I don't think they had the kit, but they left me a sort of take-out menu of stuff I could order, SOR or whatever, and they'd come back in the morning and I'd have filled up the tracks they gave me. And we worked that way for a month basically.

Were you playing Moogs in your work with Lene Lovich?

Yeah - I had the Micromoog then. I think at that point my kit was that and a Roland JP4, one of the first polyphonic synths.

 

With "Golden Age of Wireless" were Moogs used on that?

 

There's quite a lot of Micro on there. I think while I was in possession of the Micro I didn't tend to rent Minis. I did quite a lot of double tracking of things. I'd quite often play a part in twice and split them left and right.

Whatever happened to your Micro? Did it move on to the great gig in the sky?

I think it did yeah. I think when the ribbon wore out, you start getting metal rubbing off on your finger tips, I think it was time to move on!

Can you talk about the Flat Earth, and with the instrumentation were Moogs important? Were the synths important?

Yeah, definitely something that springs to mind was on the track "Mulu The Rainforest" - in the middle where there's a chord sequence. And there's a sort of two-octave arpeggio going on. And I had one of the oscillators tuned to the root note. So in spite of the bass changing on the octaves there was this constant drone which obviously creates this nice sort of interaction.

 

Can you talk about performing "The Sole Inhabitant" at Moogfest 2007?

Well...by that time I was enjoying the convenience of soft synths. So practically everything in that show was coming off a Mac G5. And I'd started to use plug-ins. And it's not quite the same thing but you get a touch of the flavour of the old sounds. 

I guess that leads us to the last question - how would you see this new Voyager XL fitting into a very software based world?

Yeah I think it's largely a question of whether you write or record 'in the moment', or whether you have a continuum of building. Very often from the initial spark of an idea for a song, through to a finished master, I have this sort of continuum. And I might work on it for a couple of days, and then leave it alone for a couple of weeks, and then come back and do a bit more. Write some lyrics, cut and paste it, edit it a bit more. And eventually one day - it's done. And I'll bounce it down and that's it.

And that's one way of working. And the nice thing about that with soft synths is you can have half a dozen of those going at the same time. You're getting away from the fear in the old days of "It's like 4 o'clock in the morning, but if I leave it now it'll never be the same again".

And that's a blessing and a curse, because the advantage of working like that is it made you very deliberate in what you were doing. It stopped you from being very experimental but it meant you made very deliberate decisions about things because there wasn't much going back and unraveling things. And that can be a very healthy thing. Sometimes you can have too much choice.

And the luxury of being able to leave things, hit save, close it up and know you'll come back to it in the future, sometimes gets you off the hook, creatively. 

And so there's a lot to be said for being in the moment. And I think this applies to synthesis but also to musicians. I really like doing tracking dates with four or five musicians. Because they come in and for the first hour they're hugging each other and telling stories about touring in 1985, and then they get hungry and want to order a curry; and you're like "Come on guys, you ought to tune up at least". At that point you know you've probably got another two or three hours and then they're going to start losing energy - and there's this sort of magic window in which it all has to happen. Or else the moment will be lost, and there's something very special about that.

It's expensive, people are getting paid, the studio is expensive, but by midnight you're going to have something. And there's something very special about that, which you can't replicate in the computerised world, where you have too many options.

So probably what'll happen with the Voyager is that I'll dive in, and of course I won't read the manual. And I'll come up with something amazing, and be like "Oh god, what do I do, if I hit the wrong button I'm gonna lose it forever"…and I'll be like "Well I might as well record it like this".

Well, you can save presets on it, but true that you can't with the patch cables in!

Ahh, OK, all right! Well that's good to know, see I wouldn't have known that!

I think the immediacy of hardware is half the fun. There's also a lot to be said for the tactile experience of interacting with an instrument, with a mouse there seems somewhat less incentive.

Oh yeah, no question.

You have two hands and you explore things in a different way.

Also, muscle memory. You know, I've been playing Moogs for thirty-something years. And if I go out there now and I play a sound, and it needs a bit more resonance, I'm just gonna nail it. Like that. And it's partly muscle memory and it's partly the Moog interface.

It's familiarity with the design concept behind it, which has been very consistent throughout. So if I don't play it for a year, I'll come back to it and just settle right into it. Whereas with a soft synth you're fipping through pages, and sub pages, and parameters. There's no real need when you're designing a soft synth to have the flow be that way. 

So many of them sacrifice that for power and flexibility. But that makes it harder to relate to the personality of a soft synth. So I found over the years, I've got things crated up in flight cases in storage, and if they've got a knob for each parameter, then it doesn't matter how long it is since I played it, I just get it out and I'm right there.

Whereas something with a little LCD screen with lots of sub-pages, if I leave it alone for a couple of months I come back and I'm scratching my head.

So you see it as a studio tool rather than something you'd consider taking out live on the road?

Well it'd be lovely to take it out on the road. But a lot of the challenge is staying stress-free on the road, and one of the way you can alleviate stress is to have a total mirror A/B system, and in theory that's what I have now. Where if a component goes missing or blows up we can substitute it instantly for something else. So if you guys wanna give me another one then yeah!

Plus then you can do it in super Stereo.

Joe Zawinul style.

 

112 Comments

Comments

I will promote your website or video to 10 000 000 Facebook and twitter people for $5 Check this out>>> https://www.fiverr.com/s/5k6dzm
I will give 6000 Facebook shares,500 Twitter Tweets,50 Pinterest,10 goolgle plus shares for $5 Check this>> out>> https://www.fiverr.com/s/50v1qv
Good article is worth everybody to learn! We will be keeping it up and have free time out to see. I think it is necessary. First Steps Kindergarten
You done certain good points there. I did a search on the subject and found nearly all persons will agree with your blog. pedometer
I am really impressed by reading this article. Interesting post and I really like your take on the issue..MyBabies webpage
I unearthed this housing news website, OC Housing News. While searching this page, I stumbled upon a detailed free home ownership cost book, Guide to Cost of House Ownership. The analysis of real estate issues on this website has great depth, the news coverage and cartoons are great, and the many user guides are extremely valuable. I urge exploring this website to survey its many features.
Personally I totally are in agreement with author opinion with this subject and There's no doubt that that it will be really interesting in making such dialogue with other this site visitors. need small payday loan massachusetts
Thomas Dolby last week in England to deliver his custom Minimoog Voyager XL. Dolby talked with us about his experiences with Moog synthesizers, his musical process, and his history with many different musicians.amino supplements
Amazing,... I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information particularly the last part. Thanks dude toko bunga batam
I am really very impressed after reading this post.it is really very Interesting article and i like to rad this type of articles.here I saw that you are truly passionate about this!Thanks most effective and fastest way to lose weight
It really is well written as well as efficient how old they are quite useful. I must say I experience so great reading your content regularly.Medical Negligence Claims
In addition, suppliers of research, testing, regulatory and market strategy services will display their service portfolios..... www.modelrise.co.uk
This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here!rebelmouse.com
Yeah I think it's largely a question of whether you write or record 'in the moment', or whether you have a continuum of building. Very often from the initial spark of an idea for a song, through to a finished master, I have this sort of continuum. all inclusive vacations
While reviewing real estate data, I unearthed this housing news website,Real Estate Market News.The analysis of real estate issues on this website has great depth, the news coverage and cartoons are great, and the many user guides are extremely valuable. I urge exploring this website to survey its many features.
hand out of the back of Melody Maker. And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only..best garlic mincer
Basically designed to be able to look through and several enjoy it about each one of the outstanding function which you regularly create. Conserve the fantastic function. onsite computer repairs
Because of a fantastic function internal putting up individuals content. Anyone can often be valuable while a real. There are many products I am about to discover simply soon after checking individuals great content. Driving lessons Watford
Connection for this important details you may have offered all of us. Okay, i am going to you need to you should create a learn with this specific various intended for difficult popular and moreover spread which will so as to the particular friends. Wedding Dress Cleaning Services
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.brendon burchard
And when the Micromoog came out I picked one up second hand out of the back of Melody Maker. ww2 uniforms
As i researed beneficial household elevators the subsequent when i experience working absent at a variety enterprise. slideshare.net/gfasreviews/gfas-review-girlfriend-activation-system-obsession-story
Jr., Endeavor; Sheila Johnson, Salamander Resorts/Hotels and part owner...URL
In addition, suppliers of research, testing, regulatory and market strategy services will display their service portfolios.https://www.rebelmouse.com/nasalpolypstreatmentmiracle/
This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here! how can i make a girl obsessed with me
I havent any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. how to turn a girl on sexually
Just stumbled across your blog and was instantly amazed with all the useful information that is on it. online pay day loas
Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated. get a woman excited sexually fast
The final leg of this upgrade—a new exhibition and event hall—will be finished in time for WMTF 2013, bringing all the facilities of the Lucerne Exhibition Centre to an international standard. loft conversions london
There are a lot of blogs and articles out there on this topic, but you have captured another side of the subject. This is good content thank you for sharing it. Male Enhancement Guru Blog
All of us go together with giving her a very things the following. Regards for giving in which useful facts..Care Credit Card
the judges who had the difficult task of naming this year’s winner. They also brought on stage all of the contenders hailing from 46 countries - high pr blog comment sites
This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks for your blog, I just subscribe your blog. This is a nice blog. high pr auto approve links
There tended to be Minimoogs lying around professional studios round-about the end of the 70's - 76-77-ish when I first got into studios. And when the Micromoog came out I picked one up second hand out of the back of Melody Maker. And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only synth I'd owned was a Transcendent 2000 juicing recipes for weight loss
I first got into studios. And when the Micromoog came out I picked one up second hand out of the back of Melody Maker. And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only synth I'd owned was a Transcendent 2000. soundclick instrumentals
rms of this put in works well together with keep giving. I love to stay with us further with this selection...travertine cleaning carlsbad
increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the Download single or multiple YouTube videos and even playlists
ntire take advantage of design to get one's one of a kind troubles eventually ends .... lowes truck rental
Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day!,...yogi coach
the judges who had the difficult task of naming this year’s winner. They also brought on stage all of the contenders hailing from 46 countries - a dynamic group of people from every industry and all with a lot of passion for what they are doing zonnepanelen groningen
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it. website design mississauga
And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only synth I'd owned was a Transcendent 2000.seo company dallas by Alvin Russell
I’ll spend a day taking a grain tour and I hope to bring to you comparisons on what Argentinian grain production looks like compared to our practices in the U.S....Nachhaltigkei
I stumbled upon a real estate market news Internet site, OC Housing News. While reviewing this website, I unearthed this fantastic free home ownership cost guide, OCHN Guide to House Ownership Costs. The coverage of housing issues on this site is timely, the cartoons and writing are entertaining and insightful, and the real estate educational materials are fantastic. I encourage checking out this Internet site to tour what it has to offer.Housing Market News
in terms of this put in works well together with keep giving. I love to stay with us further with this selection. ......what is epos system
This sort of post provide a a number of facts along with present a number of experiences including continue to be. Debt Advice Ireland
And when the Micromoog came out I picked one up second hand out of the back of Melody Maker. And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only synth I'd owned was a Transcendent 2000. alexia live
I first got into studios. And when the Micromoog came out I picked one up second hand out of the back of Melody Maker. And that was the first off-the-shelf synth I'd owned. Before that the only synth I'd owned was a Transcendent 2000. Buy Facebook Likes
is subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples, bao tri may tinh
X
You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.
Loading